The Cleveland Browns went 0-16 this season, and it wasn’t a fluke. When you’re last in the league in scoring offense (14.6 points per game), second last in scoring defense (25.6 points per game allowed), and last in turnover margin (minus-28), 0-16 is to be expected.
The Browns, though, can begin to right the ship next season, provided that they find stability under center. What will Cleveland do at quarterback in 2018?
“I think they’re going to bring in a free agent,” former NFL quarterback and current CBSSports.com NFL analyst Brady Quinn said on Tiki and Tierney. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded for Alex Smith given (general manager) John Dorsey’s experience with him.”
Dorsey served as Kansas City’s GM from 2013-16, during which the Chiefs went 43-21. Smith has thrown 102 touchdowns and just 33 interceptions in five seasons in Kansas City.
“He’s played at a high level,” Quinn said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if (the Browns) didn’t bring him in and draft a guy at the top of this year’s draft. There’s no harm in trying to do both and letting that young guy learn underneath Alex Smith, much like Patrick Mahomes did this year in Kansas City. But I think they got to address it at this point (and build through the draft). They’ll probably do it in both capacities – free agency and the draft.”
In other news, Quinn weighed in on Jacksonville’s run to the AFC Championship. The Jags advanced after beating Buffalo 10-3 in the Wild Card and Pittsburgh 45-42 in the divisional round. While Leonard Fournette and the defense have played well, so has Blake Bortles, who has two touchdowns and zero turnovers in the playoffs.
“I wouldn’t say Blake Bortles has necessarily surprise me in any way,” Quinn said. “I think throughout the course of his career he’s shown flashes of being a franchise quarterback and playing at a high level.”
Like in 2015, when he threw for 4,428 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. In 2016, however, Bortles regressed across the board, throwing for 3,905 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions.
His production – and his confidence – suffered.
“Confidence is everything when you’re a quarterback in the league,” Quinn said. “He hasn’t turned the football over so far in the playoffs. That’s kind of been his Achilles heel – and really for this team. If he doesn’t turn the football over, they’ve got every shot to win as good as their defense is playing and as good as they are running the football. So he’s doing what I think he needs to do in order to help his team win.”
Quinn hasn’t been surprised by Case Keenum, either. The soon-to-be 30-year-old was finally given a chance to succeed this season, and he responded.
“He’s a guy who I think is very humble as far as his persona,” Quinn said. “But deep down, I think he looks at what was able to accomplish at Houston, being one of the most prolific passers in college football history as a guy who says ‘You know what? You can think I’m not big enough or (that) I don’t have a strong enough arm, but I’m going to make up for it with my playmaking ability, with my football IQ, accuracy – all those things.’ He’s never given up. He’s never given up belief in his abilities and what he can do.”
Granted, Minnesota has an excellent defense, a solid running attack, and hasn’t asked Keenum to score 30+ points a game. But it’s safe to say Keenum has exceeded all expectations.
“It’s situation and circumstance,” Quinn said, “but (it’s) also Case and just his belief in himself.”